First thing early this morning, this tweet came along:
1B prospect Evan White (No. 58 on @MLBPipeline Top 100) is set to sign long-term deal with @Mariners. Guaranteed $24 mil over first six years, also includes three club options. Should be announced Monday. White hit .293/.350/.488 in Double-A this year, also outstanding defender.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) November 22, 2019
Followed by this one:
The Mariners and first-base prospect Evan White are in agreement on a six-year, $24 million contract with three club options, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 22, 2019
White, 23, spent last season at Double-A. No player at that level ever has received a long-term extension.
That last part of Passan’s tweet is what will catch most everyone’s attention, I’m sure. So, we’ve got an unprecedented early contract extension that is fairly large for a player who has no MLB service time yet. This is very interesting! What does it mean? Why did they do it? We’ll find out more soon, I’m sure, and we’ll keep you updated.
At first blush, this seems like a way to avoid the service time manipulation song and dance that MLB teams always have to play coy about when they do it. It also fully buys out Evan White’s club control so that the team can start him at the MLB level this coming season if they choose to. What this boils down to is now the team has 9 years of club control over White instead of the maximum of 7 if they’d gone the route of playing service time games (h/t to LLawyer Tim Cantu, esq.).
This is neat because it makes it very clear that the team is fully invested in Evan White, first baseman. And really, 6 seasons for $24 million is very reasonable in this day and age, assuming all goes well in the near future and White makes his MLB debut sometime in the 2020 season.
Perhaps this starts to set an precedent for the other heralded prospects in the Mariners system such as Julio Rodríguez, Jarred Kelenic, and Logan Gilbert. Time will tell as they approach the cusps of making their MLB debuts.
So, speculate and analyze away in the comments and happy Friday, y’all.
UPDATE - 8:16 AM
The Evan White deal with the Mariners can max out in the mid-$50 million range, sources tell ESPN. Barring a disastrous spring training, White is expected to be Seattle's first baseman on opening day. No reason to keep him in the minor leagues or manipulate his service time.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 22, 2019